Airtel seeks TDSAT direction to Trai against Reliance Jio's extend free service

Bharti Airtel on Friday moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) against the telecom sector regulator Trai allowing Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio to continue free promotional offer beyond the stipulated 90 days.

In its 25-page petition before the telecom regulator, Airtel has accused Tari of being a "mute spectator" to violations by Reliance Jio and sought directions to the regulator to ensure that Jio does not provide its free voice and data plan beyond 30 December.

Airtel, India's largest private mobile services operator, alleged that Jio has been violating Trai's tariff order since March 2016, causing "significant prejudice and day-to-day loss" to the company and "affecting its network.

Airtel claimed that because of the extended free service by Jio it has to bear asymmetric traffic.

Jio, which launched an introductory free voice and data plan on 4 September, earlier this month extended it till 31 March.

According to Airtel's petition, the "free services" being provided by Reliance Jio is a blatant violation of the Trai's directions, tariff orders and regulations.

Reliance Jio's counsel, who was present during the hearing of the case on Friday, asked to be as a party to the case.

Trai has sought 10 more days to take a decision.

TDSAT, however, directed Trai to come back with its decision on the next day of hearing and directed Reliance Jio to file an impleadment application.

Hearing in the case will resume on 6 January 2017.

Airtel in the petition alleged that Trai in its decision dated 20 October had  "erroneously concluded" that since Jio's promotional offer of free services was only valid till 3 December, it is consistent with the "90 days" directions of Trai.

"The Trai further without affording any reasoning baldly, cryptically and in a non-transparent manner in violation of Section 11(4) of the TRAI Act concluded that the Tariff Plans offered by the said TSP are not non-compliant with IUC and are not predatory and discriminatory at present. The impugned decision of TRAI is thus bad in law and deserves to be quashed," it said.

The appeal, it said, has been filed against TRAI's October 20 decision as well as against its "continued failure to fulfil its statutory obligation" under TRAI Act by prohibiting the blatant violation of its own Tariff Orders and Regulations.